The Hot 100 2016: Record labels we love
From Domestic Exile to Rock Action, Scottish record labels continue to thrive
One of the UK's most adventurous independent labels, Night School Records has had a magnificent 2016. Mastermind Michael Kasparis has worked tirelessly to champion the Glasgow underground (Ela Orleans, inter-generational psychedelic punk trio the Flexibles, lo-fi electronic experimentalist Helen Celle) alongside cult figures from further afield (CC Dust, Billy Bao, David West, Patience).
Some of the most exciting new music in Scotland is coming out on DIY cassette labels. Home to all things dank and sinister, Domestic Exile made their mark with tapes from Golden Teacher offshoot the Modern Institute and kinky industrialists Leatherette. Setting itself up as some imaginary research body, the Greater Lanarkshire Auditory Research Council released a debut from dreamy jazzoid pop trio Still House Plants, accompanying the tape with an artfully produced poster-essay.
The long-running Chemikal Underground enjoyed a strong 2016, beginning with Emma Pollock's SAY Award shortlisted In Search of Harperfield in January, and following it with albums from RM Hubbert, Found, and Rick Redbeard plus the reformed El Hombre Trajeado. Mogwai's Rock Action label, meanwhile, brought us the dark synth bombast of Texan Xander Harris and a terrific new single from Glasgow-London duo Sacred Paws.
Optimo Music issued a steady stream of 12"s in its Trax and Disco Plate series, a mini-album from downtown NYC legend Peter Zummo (best known for his work with Arthur Russell), and the debut EP from Scottish-Australian duo Pussy Mothers.
Eigg's beloved Lost Map put out new albums from Pictish Trail, Kid Canaveral and Rozi Plain, while Edinburgh's Song, by Toad enjoyed widespread acclaim with Swell to Great, the debut album by indie-folk supergroup Modern Studies. The crowdfunded Last Night from Glasgow marked its first year with albums from Mark W Georgsson, Emme Woods, Teen Canteen and Be Charlotte.